Megatrends – What Forces Are Shaping Our Church World in 2018?

Posted by Jerry Roth on

Since I first read John Naisbitt’s book Megatrends in 1984, I have been fascinated by researchers who study and propose forces that will shape our world in the future. This week I read an article by Shane Wall, Chief Technology Officer at HP. The article, Introducing HP's New 2018 Megatrends, describes four overarching megatrends that they believe will significantly affect their business in 2018.

These forces include:

  1. Rapid Urbanization – More people will be moving to cities. By 2050, they believe there will be 60 cities in the world with a population of 10 million people or more.
  2. Changing Demographics – They note that “By 2030, a third of the global population will be over 65.” Following generations (Millenials, Generation Z) have different priorities.
  3. Hyper Globalization – “Our lives and work are increasingly interconnected globally. … When everything from technology and people to industries and governments is connected, digital platforms and ecosystems reign supreme.”
  4. Accelerating Innovation – “The pace of innovation is speeding up, … Such rapid innovation is transforming the way people work and live nearly as quickly,”

So what megatrend forces will impact our church leadership and planning roles? Even reviewing HP’s megatrends, we can note overlap in our ministry world.

Changing Demographics – We have discussed this issue in several recent blog postings such as:

Great research is being published by many organizations that can inform church leaders. One organization is Barna. They have published solid research including:

Accelerating Innovation – Alban published a challenging article on the theme of innovation in the church.

We’re in the innovation business ( )

In the article, posted by Nathan Kirkpatrick, the Rev. Dwight Zscheile (associate professor of congregational mission and leadership at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota) writes:

  • “ ‘Innovation’ is a term not typically associated with religious institutions, which tend to be oriented toward conserving and maintaining tradition. Yet at its heart, the Christian church is about innovation—embodying God’s new life, hope, and community for the world.”
  • We live in a moment of profound social and cultural change fueled by digital technology and globalization. Organizations of all types are struggling to adapt to new patterns of belonging and participation.”
  • innovation is the spread of a new practice in a community. It is less about leaders coming up with brilliant new ideas to sell to people than it is about listening empathetically to breakdowns in people’s lives and collaboratively discovering new stories and practices that offer a way forward.”

As church staff and leaders, it is critical that we continue to research and discuss what forces (megatrends) we believe will have a significant impact on our ministry design, implementation, and evaluation. How we do that is limited only by our desire to learn, our discipline of discernment, and our openness to change.

Listen to these challenging words by The Rev. Dwight Zscheile:

        “This requires a different way of leading. It is less about bringing energy to catalyze flagging participation in church programs and activities and more about tracing the energy of the Holy Spirit among the people of God. It is less about defining bold goals for institutional growth than refocusing the congregation’s life on cycles of listening, discerning, experimenting and reflecting at the grassroots. It calls for interpretive leadership—shaping an environment in which people can make sense of their lives and world in a Christian way.”

What megatrends are you identifying in the coming years that will affect your ministry planning? Please share your thoughts in response to this question on our CPL website blog once Megatrends is posted online. The Center for Parish Leadership can provide relevant consulting and facilitation for your staff and leaders that is responsive to these emerging trends. Please contact us to explore how we can support you on this journey.

Jerry Roth

Research Analyst

The Center for Parish Leadership


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